Leytonstone artist community in the 1980’s

Great description of Leytonstone in the 1980’s from City Racing – the life and times of an artist run gallery written by Matt Hale, John Burgess, Paul Noble, Keith Coventry, and Peter Owen, which I exchanged with Matt one night in The Heathcote for a copy of This Other London. It sets the scene for the infamous M11 Link Road protests that ran from the late 1980’s to 1994.


It was the blighted, front and back gardened, Victorian houses that had become home and workplace to another large East End artist community. The DoT leased the properties they owned to various short-life housing organisations, one of which was ACME. ACME’s rents were super cheap. Houses became live/work spaces. Rooms were knocked together to make bigger studios. Leytonstone was like a weird suburb full of Sunday painters, but where every day was Sunday”


The ‘Remembering the M11′ event is tonight at The Wanstead Tap

Roger Deakin quote from Waterlog

“Most of us live in a world where more and more places and things are signposted, labelled, and officially ‘interpreted’. There is something about all this that is turning the reality of things into virtual reality. It is the reason why walking, cycling and swimming will always be subversive activities. They allow us to regain a sense of what is old and wild in these islands, by getting off the beaten track and breaking free of the official version of things.”

Waterlog by Roger Deakin

Common Ground


Sat in the armchair in my shed the other day enjoying the first spring sunshine pitching through the open door, I lazily picked up a copy of The Countryman from Winter 1986 sat on the old school desk and randomly flicked through the pages stopping on this passage:

“… tree preservation orders may well miss trees with important local associations – perhaps where village courting traditions took place, or the first chestnut burst into leaf in spring. Sites of special scientific interest can overlook the bluebell wood or primrose bank remembered since childhood. And what legislation would protect the brackenfield so important to a community within living memory as a source for bedding animals, reed-bed cut for thatching, or the quarry waste-tip symbolic of labour that gave character to the place we now enjoy?”Tom Greeves, The Countryman, 1986

Tom Greeves’ article goes on to describe the launch of The Common Ground Parish Maps Project – an initiative to get each parish to create maps representing the values, interests and heritage from the point of view of the people who live there.

In the cities, the primrose banks and bluebell woods can just as easily be bus-shelters where local ‘courting traditions’ took place, and nissen huts now used as garden sheds – we need to make sure they too are mapped and save them from being cruelly swept away like the brackenfields bricked over with Wimpy Homes.

Common Ground seem to still be going strong nearly 30 years later, mapping out the corners of communities often overlooked and neglected. Have a listen to this recent programme on Radio 4